Friday, April 20, 2007

Yaye for SAP Labs

SAP Labs India has been ranked 8th in the Great Places to Work Study 2006 by Business World and I am so proud to be working here. The Great Place to Work Survey spanned over 120 major companies in India. SAP Labs participated in this for the first time and made it to the top 10!

More noteworthy is that amongst IT companies, SAP Labs is ranked 3. I have not worked with too many companies but going by the experience of my friends in various other companies, SAP is definitely one of the best places to work for.

Infact, I am surprised to see it lagging behind Google and Mindtree. I wonder how much more can those companies be doing for their employees. We have a sprawling campus, free food, free transport, amazingly flexible working hours, the independence to think and express our thoughts openly (for an IT guy, there is nothing more vital than this), a liberal cross-project transfer policy, numerous discussion forums, clubs, a dedicated and active CSR initiative, cricket, football tournaments, dance classes, a nice gym, festival celebrations, Family Day celebrations, guests such as Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore kick-starting the New Year, etc etc etc. Not to mention a highly qualified and intelligent pool of employees who egg you on to perform your best. And these are just some of the things that come to my mind at this moment. I can list down much more if I sit back and think.

I remember on Diwali weekend last year, I had to stay back till 8.30 PM due to some sudden customer escalation. As I sat in the shuttle, I realized that there were just 3 employees going that late! After a fab display of fireworks at office that evening, it was possible for most of us to go home and celebrate. Even though I was unlucky enough to be among those three people, I felt proud to be working with a company that cares and in a company where it is possible to balance your work and life so effectively.

Three cheers for SAP Labs! Go SAP...

Monday, April 16, 2007

Things to do

It is really difficult to concentrate on office work in office these days. I already feel there's so much to do and so little time left. Last week, I began preparing a list of action items that need my attention. And this list just keeps on growing longer.

Some examples of things on my list are:
  1. Impress Tuck - and that's absolutely vital!
  2. Research on what kind of laptop will suit me best there and where will I get the best deal.
  3. Learn excel shortcuts - I am really bad at this.
  4. There's some fuss being created over getting parking permits at Fuqua. Need to knwo what's the big deal about this.
  5. Check on vaccinations and immunizations. I can save money if I get this done with while I am still in India.
  6. People seem to have already booked apartments in Durham, and I do not even have a flatmate yet (Guess I can blame Tuck for this :))
  7. Then there's a lot of usual research that I need to do about Fuqua - such as a deeper research into the clubs.
  8. Ah! and the VISA - how can I forget that.
  9. Is flight availability already a problem? I heard this a couple of times already.

On top of all this, finish off pending stuff at office, give KT etc etc...

Friday, April 13, 2007

Indian IT professional? Here's how you begin

I sent a similar mail to some people who approached me for advice. Thought its better to put it on blog.

If you are reading this blog then you have already started doing the right thing.
First things first: Start reading blogs - they are amazing resources of first hand experience from fellow applicants and current students. People who have been there, done that.

Visit Clearadmit regularly. You get some useful info there. Read the blogs of all Best of Blogging nominees.

With blogs, you get a very good idea of the application process. There are some things that can help you in deciding upon which schools to apply. While going through these (and other) blogs, I would recommend that you be on the look out for the following things:
1) What schools are keen on Indian Students
2) What are the kind of profiles of Indian students getting into these schools
3) What differentiated them from others who were not successful
4) Which schools not to apply to. This is a critical question to address - there are some schools that entice you to apply based on their strengths, brand name, your gut feeling etc etc. However, do not get swayed by emotions - do your research well before you apply. It costs a substantial time and amount to apply to each school, not to mention the disappointment of not getting through. My earlier blog caters to this aspect. There are schools that simply are not too keen on my type of people and my educational interests also are not served as well by them. All applicants I talked to did not know anyone in India who got interviewed by MIT. Bottomline: Apply wherever you want to, but Be Aware!
5) A common thread you'll find across all successful 'Indian IT male' applicants in India (I am not sure of Indians who apply when they are working abroad) getting into the top 10 schools is a good GMAT score. No doubt the application consists of a lot of components, but for an Indian IT male, it takes a Herculean effort to sway a decision your way given a low GMAT score.
6) Do not hesitate to contact these bloggers - they are people like you and me, and after a looong application process, they are willing to share their thoughts with anyone who wants to listen.
7) You'll find a lot of comments on these blogs - check them out to find out about other bloggers.

Again, no matter what you do, do not compromise your GMAT preparation for anything. Aim for 800 :) It doesn't take hard work to score well - work smart!

All the Best

Thursday, April 12, 2007

My ideal Inbox

Things I wish to see when I check my mailbox in the morning:

  1. A full freeship award letter from Duke/ Tuck
  2. A pre-approved VISA without having to appear for interview
  3. No work at office
  4. My manager mailing me that since there aint much work, I can go on a paid vacation for my last two months
  5. A mail from a fellow admit saying all my housing needs have been taken care of and I just need to get my $@# in there
Alas! If wishes were horses...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What constitutes the 'Fit'?

Most people are of the opinion that you should just look at the fit-factor from your point of view and let the university decide whether you fit in its jigsaw puzzle or not. I would say we should always start looking at a school in that way, but in the end, the decision to apply or not should also depend on the probability of getting accepted to the school you are going to apply. It takes around $250 to submit an app to a top school and we better spend this money wisely.

To present an example, here's 5 reasons why I applied to INSEAD:

  1. A major reason behind my decision to pursue an MBA is the opportunity to interact with a diverse student body. Where else than the most 'International' of all MBA courses - going by the statistics that is. It has arguably the most diverse student body in terms of nationality as well as quality.
  2. One of the better one-year courses in the world.
  3. Brand name, esp in Europe. For someone looking to pursue a career in Europe, INSEAD is bound to be among the top-choices.
  4. Amazing spirit of community.
  5. It costs lesser than a two-year course in the US.

And here's 5 reasons why I should not have:

  1. I have never travelled abroad. To apply to INSEAD with the international travel part of your application blank is blasphemy for a profile like mine.
  2. Demonstrated leadership is a crucial factor for admission at all top B-schools around the world. INSEAD seems to value this demonstration a lot more at work than outside it. I was a team lead at my previous company, but later switched to a product development form and am currently leading a team of zero. INSEAD's essay one goes thus: "Please give a detailed description of your job, including nature of work, major responsibilities; and, where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, number of clients/products and results achieved."
  3. Most of the Indians getting through either already hold a master's degree or have diverse work experience (read non-IT).
  4. One of my stronger points was GMAT, and INSEAD simply couldn't care less for this given the rest of my profile.
  5. To make the most of my education and succeed post-INSEAD, I now think that more work-ex than 3-4 years is preferable if I was looking for a career switch. So while I still think INSEAD is a good fit for me when it comes to enjoying my education and learning the most out of it, INSEAD may actually have done me a favor by not offering an admit.
The point is that there are a whole lot of things to be looked upon when you apply to a B-school. We all apply to schools we think are stretch targets for us. But it is wise to choose the best out of those stretch-schools and not just go ahead and apply. Would I apply to INSEAD again if given a chance to begin my app process all over again? I'm not sure...

Disclaimer: Thoughts mentioned above are personal and have nothing to do with what INSEAD recommends.